Technology is being used to upgrade the humble bandage. Research teams all across the world are developing smarter and more effective wound coverings and dressings, bringing together advances in materials, sensors, tissue engineering, and microelectronics. An overview of the smart bandages of the future:
A Smart bandage incorporating nanotechnology into wound dressings has been developed by a research team, including scientists from Australian Universities. The next-generation bandage can alert a patient or clinician to problems with a wound by changing colour, and can automatically release antibiotics contained within polymer capsules. Connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone, sensors in the bandage can alert a doctor if the bandage needs attention. Lead researcher Professor Nico Voelcker said that the technology relied on tiny sensors able to detect telltale signs of infection, without the need to remove the bandage and compromise healing. The sensors are capable of detecting changes in temperature or pH levels, triggering a change of colour to red. They can also automatically release antibiotics from within polymer capsules. Sensors have also been developed to show when a pressure bandage has loosened. The consortium of experts from Melbourne, Monash, NSW, Queensland and SA Universities, has proved the concept with prototypes in small tests, but they need more funding to proceed with large-scale clinical trials.
Scientists in the UK have designed a new intelligent bandage which can detect how well a wound is healing and send a progress report to the doctor. The bandage, which could be trialled within the next 12 months, uses real-time 5G technology to monitor what treatment is needed and also keep track of a patient’s activity levels. It would connect that wound to a 5G infrastructure and that infrastructure through your telephone will also know things about you — where you are, how active you are at any one time. The plaster would help clinicians know the performance of the specific wound at any specific time, who can then tailor the treatment protocol for the individual.